In 1999, a 49-year-old woman tended her garden outside of the Chicago suburban home she shared with her husband, daughter and pet dogs. Extended family lived close by. She had a job that she loved. Life didn’t get any better than this. One phone call changed everything.
A random blood test had just revealed that she had hepatitis C. She’d never heard of it before. Not only did she have it, but it had been swimming in her bloodstream for 30 years, contracted from a blood transfusion in 1969. Tests would reveal that her liver was engulfed in chronic active liver disease – almost cirrhotic. Hepatitis C in 1999 was a degenerative, often incurable and deadly disease. Something had to be done.
The only treatment at the time offered less than a 50% chance for cure and came with a plethora of nasty side effects. It was a yearlong regimen of chemotherapy that could trigger flu-like symptoms. And those patients who didn’t respond to this difficult protocol frequently found themselves immunocompromised when it was over and sicker than before. The “wonder drugs” were still a long way off.
While waiting 15 years for a cure, Labar Laskie took extraordinary measures – except the chemotherapy – to keep her symptoms at bay, calm her fears, and lift her spirits. Above the Din is her story.